Convicts empathize with forsaken OTTBs

A mare and foal bond with inmates who will now see them through to hard times.

A mare and foal bond with inmates who will now see them through to hard times.

Press Release—In a twist of fate, men at the Blackburn Correctional Facility in TRF’s Second Chances program who may have awoken on June 28th, 2016 questioning their own self worth, were entrusted with a life or death mission – to nurse to health six starved horses who were deemed the worst cases at the Mercer County, Ky. farm where 43 horses were seized.

Veteran horsewoman and TRF farm manager Linda Dyer says that these men are finding new meaning in their own lives by taking responsibility for the meticulous rehabilitation plan and extra love and kindness that these horses need.

Z Camelot is among the Thoroughbreds rescued from Mercer County, Ky. and taken to the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation.

Z Camelot is among the Thoroughbreds rescued from Mercer County, Ky. and taken to the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation.

The worst of the six horses are Z Camelot, pictured left, and an unidentified mare and foal also pictured with inmates. When asked how he felt when he first saw the six horses, inmate Robert Buck was at a loss for words.

“It was so awful and unbelievable” he recalled. “But now, it is really cool to see their progress.”

Silver Cliff’s caretaker, Brandon Linning, had similar feelings about the ordeal.

He said: “This sounds kind of crazy but I kind of identify with them. They were locked up … just like we are all locked up. I treat them the way I want to be treated. I take them out for walks, put them in a little bigger stall or pasture; give them a taste of freedom.”

The horses are being monitored daily by Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital.

To donate to the horses at the TRF, please visit: To designate funds to the Blackburn Correctional Facility, please use the dropdown menu on the bottom left of the donations page.

To read more about the ongoing case involving the herd of 43 abandoned horses in Kentucky, please check out these links:,

11 responses to “Convicts empathize with forsaken OTTBs”

  1. Mary McLeod

    Wish TRB would expand this wonderful program into NC!! I love this story and know the men will take excellent care of these horses…and the horses will take excellent care of the men. Love to ALL, Mary in Boone

  2. Gina Powell

    Great program, but I have one question:
    WHY is the MULTIBILLION dollar horse racing industry dumping racehorses when no longer profitable?
    Then they have the audacity to solicit people (who had nothing to do with the exploitation) for funds to care for their disposable commodities?

    1. Susan Salk

      Hi Gina:
      It’s a good question. I can venture to guess that though racing is labeled a “multi billion dollar” industry– and I’m not sure how it’s valued, all that money does not flow to the pockets of the lowest level trainers. A common scenario is that a racehorse starts off getting all the care in the world. And that they’re trained and prepared to race. At some point the horse either earns back some of the money invested in him or her, or doesn’t. If the horse earns well, the horse runs in the higher-class (more financially rewarding) races. If the horse starts to slip, he or she is entered in cheaper races so they can be competitive and still win. It’s in the lower levels that the horse is “at risk” to get “claimed” and wind up with people who could possibly, for reasons of financial constraints, injury to the horse, or myriad reasons, need to move the horse along. It’s at this juncture when the horse can be “at risk” for winding up in the slaughter pipeline. Another thing that happens is that people who sell horses to slaughter for a profit, the so-called “meat buyers” have been known to trick trainers and others by posing as someone who wants to buy a riding pony,etc. These are a few of the things I’ve learned in my six years blogging about OTTBs. My brief explanation explains a little bit about how it can happen in a “multi billion dollar” industry.

      My personal view is that it seems to take way too many horses for trainers to “get lucky” with the one who can help recoup the investments. And horses live a very long time, and the racing is often a short-lived job for these massive “hay burners.” There’s a tangle of problems and I’m painting this with a broad brush.

      My goal has always been to help promote the OTTB as a riding horse so that they can find homes and be diverted from the slaughter pipeline.

  3. Suze Maze

    I helped the very first equine paroleee from Blackburn get his track license back in 1989. Great program

  4. Tonya LaFarr

    Such amazing work that these inmates do for these horses. I’m following because I am a horse lover. I also followed Z Camelot in his glory days. Those horses deserve much kindness from their ordeal.

  5. Cheri

    I wonder if anyone reached out to Zayat, perhaps he and his family would be interested in donating for Z Camelot. Either way, what a touching photo, especially the mare and her foal with their caretaker….. Simply beautiful.

    1. Christa

      In an earlier story someone stated the family “knew” because of one of Justin’s tweets. My comment that tweeting about a situation isn’t stepping up and providing support for a horse you owned never received a reply. Nor did my question: Has Zayat honored his pledge to the Turf Writers’ yet?, receive a reply.

  6. Marion Mohrman

    The men who need healing are learning that horses also need healing and what better way then to experience the unconditional love that animals (even abused animals) give back. This piece made me cry tears of joy. God Bless

  7. Susan Harris

    This is wonderful for the men and the horses.

  8. Ruth Brown

    This wonderful it is a e win win both parties horse and man will benefit

  9. Marilyn

    I cannot think of better therapy for either…beautiful.

Leave a Reply